Monday

15th Oct 2018

Brussels keen to redirect €82bn for jobs and growth

  • Springs buds: talk in Brussels is switching emphasis from austerity to growth (Photo: mcarruth)

The EU commission wants to redirect €82bn worth of structural funds to projects aimed at boosting employment and growth, particularly in bailed-out countries, measures seen as both vague and inadequate by critics.

Anticipating a demand from Monday's EU summit to redeploy as yet unspent structural funds for employment-related projects, the EU commission on Friday (27 January) announced its intention to work with member states on redistributing €82 billion.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Speaking at a press conference with the Belgian premier, commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said: "What we can do is to redeploy structural funds, as long as member states agree, because this is always a partnership between the commission and member states."

He gave the example of Italy, whose recently appointed technocrat government asked for a "reprogramming" of funds to the tune of €3.1bn for education, broadband and railway investments in the country's poorer southern regions.

"Now we would like to do the same with programme countries where there is high youth unemployment," Barroso said.

A similar programme has been agreed with Greece as well, where projects worth €11.5bn should help build motorways, schools and energy efficiency in housing, commission spokesman Ton Van Lierop told this website. The task force of EU commission experts deployed to the country last year with the aim of assisting the government with its structural reforms required by the EU and IMF will "help" in implementing these new priorities, he added.

In Romania and Bulgaria, the EU's newest members and where structural funds go largely unspent year by year, the governments have accepted to have EU experts help them with the drafting and checking of the EU's notoriously bureaucratic project requirements.

But experts are sceptical that this new strategy will have any impact on the forecast recession in most member states.

"It's not enough money to really make a difference. If it was €82bn for research or in fiscal deductions for small and medium enterprises, maybe it would," says Diego Valiante, an economist with the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank.

Instead of doing more of the same - letting member states select all sorts of "bridges to nowhere" and other irrelevant projects, the EU commission should link structural funds with labour market reforms needed in most member states, he said.

But Valiante also conceded that under the current budget - which ends in 2013 - there is little room for manoeuvre for both the commission and member states. "This one is finished, we will have to wait for the next multi-annual budget to revamp the rules," he said.

Franco-German 'growth' plan looks to EU funds and taxes

A six-point plan drafted by France and Germany suggests corporate tax 'co-ordination', an EU financial transactions tax and the re-deployment of EU funds in troubled countries as ways to spur growth and jobs.

EU to link regional funds to strict deficit rules

The EU commission on Thursday proposed that from 2014 on, the bloc's structural funds be linked to strict budget deficit rules under the new economic governance legislation. Regional representatives and MEPs have criticsed the move.

EU leaders trying to shift focus from deficits to jobs

Besides a treaty on fiscal discipline, European leaders meeting in Brussels on Monday will also seek to adopt non-binding measures on employment. Their summit will come in the midst of a general strike expected to paralyse the EU capital.

EU unemployment hits record high

Twenty three million people in the EU are struggling to find jobs, as the economic crisis and austerity cuts unfold into severe social consequences.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  2. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election
  3. EU-UK Brexit deal talks paused
  4. Macedonian parliament to vote on name change Monday
  5. Swedish opposition leader gives up on forming government
  6. Commission confirms: no record of Juncker speech seminar
  7. Ukraine splits from Russian orthodox church
  8. Polish doctor wins landmark pro-life case in Norway

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  2. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive
  3. It's time for the EU to stand up to transnational corporations
  4. Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money
  5. 'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy
  6. Brexit and sanctions at EU summit This WEEK
  7. EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants
  8. EU urged to seize assets of foreign hackers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us